Holness made the announcement yesterday, at a press conference at the Office of the Prime Minister. Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) and Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) personnel are now in the zone, which will operate for 60 days.
Major Godfrey Sterling of the JDF and Superintendent of Police, Kirk Ricketts are jointly in charge of operations in the Mount Salem special zone.
Managing Director of the Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF), Omar Sweeny has been named Deputy Chairman of the Social Intervention Committee, which is to be established within five working days.
Holness said the decision to declare Mount Salem as the first zone was based on police statistics, which show that the area is a major crime hotspot.
He informed that the JDF and the JCF made a written request for operations in Mount Salem.
He noted that all weapons that will be used in the zone have been registered with the Institute of Forensic Science and Legal Medicine and the members of the security forces, who will be conducting operations, will have their names and badges fully displayed.
In addition, the National Security Council will convene to receive and consider the written report of the Joint Command that must be submitted every 10 days.
The Prime Minister will update the nation by making a statement to Parliament within 14 days in accordance with the law.
Mr. Holness noted that while the joint forces will have special power under the law, it is not to be arbitrarily used, and measures to prevent abuse of citizens are in the legislation governing the operation of the zones.
He called on all citizens to fully cooperate, noting that no community will be allowed to operate as a safe haven for criminals.
“We will establish and restore public order, citizen security, and public safety. We will make Jamaica safe again,” he said.
The Law Reform (Zones of Special Operations) Special Security and Community Development Measures) Act was passed earlier this year in the Houses of Parliament. It seeks to contain crime while safeguarding the human rights of residents and promoting community development through social intervention initiatives.
The law gives the Prime Minister power to declare an area a Zone of Special Operations in order to tackle increased crime and volatility in a community. This is in consultation with the National Security Council.
The zone can only be established after the police commissioner and the chief of defence staff make a request for such a declaration in writing to the Prime Minister.
- Countries: Jamaica